Construction is starting this spring on three bridges that cross Brays Bayou, part of an ongoing effort to improve the flow of storm water to alleviate flooding.
The Harris County Flood Control District is working with the City of Houston to replace the bridges on Telephone Road and Lawndale Street. The project also includes the elevation of the Brays Bayou bridge at Hillcroft Street, which will be raised about 15 inches, and the rebuilding of the bridge’s ramps.
Work is scheduled to end as late as fall 2021.
The project, known as Project Brays, is the county’s largest flood damage reduction program to date, according to the Harris County Flood Control District.
The work is part of a $49 million package that also includes several other projects. Funding comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along with local sources, the county said.
The project is about getting back to basics with flood control, said Gary Zika who manages federal projects for the flood control district.
"We can only do two things with water in Harris County," Zika said. "We can either move the water as fast as we can down the channels out to the Houston Ship Channel, out to Galveston Bay, or we can store it on a temporary basis."
Zika said one of the challenges of moving water on Brays Bayou is that its many bridges are essentially speed bumps that slow down the flow. So project engineers have been looking for ways to lessen the impact. That includes designing bridges with fewer piers underneath.
"The bridges get longer so it's got a bigger opening underneath it," added Zika. "We also make the bridges higher."
Along with the improvements under the bridges, Zika said the city is making enhancements through an interlocal agreement. That includes 10-foot sidewalks over the bridges that can be used by pedestrians and cyclists.